Five hearings are scheduled this month to hear testimony on the proposed Groundwater Protection rules offered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
The first hearing is July 16 in Farmington, Minn., starting at 1 p.m.
MDA released the revised and renamed Groundwater Protection Rule after considering feedback from the public on the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule that was released in June 2017.
Changes include refining criteria used to define areas with vulnerable groundwater; excluding much of northern Minnesota from fall application restrictions; allowing fall application on specific crops; removing townships from potential regulations; and focusing mitigation efforts on protecting public wells with high nitrate levels.
After the revisions were made, only 13% of the state’s farmers will be affected by the fall nitrogen restriction.
The purpose of the rule is to minimize potential fertilizer sources of nitrate pollution to the state’s groundwater, and to protect drinking water, according to MDA.
Here are the formal hearings, at which testimony will be taken before an administrative law judge:
July 16. 1-6 p.m., Robert Boeckman Middle School, 800 Denmark Ave., Farmington, Minn.
July 18. 1-4 p.m., Stewartville Civic Center, 105 First St. E., Stewartville, Minn.
July 19. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Minnesota West Community and Technical College, 1450 College Way, Worthington, Minn.
July 25. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., River’s Edge Convention Center, 10 Fourth Ave. S., St. Cloud, Minn.
July 26. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., American Legion, 900 First St. E., Park Rapids, Minn.
For those not able to attend the hearings, written comments must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 2. The judge must allow written comments to be submitted into the hearing record by the agency and all interested persons for five working days after the hearing ends. At the hearing, the administrative law judge may order this five-working-day comment period extended for a longer period, but for no more than 20 calendar days.
A rebuttal comment period will be held from Aug. 3 through 4:30 p.m. Aug. 9. This five-day rebuttal comment period may change if the administrative law judge extends the initial comment period at the hearing.
MDA officials ask that your comments:
• Identify the specific part or subpart of the rule you are addressing
• Specify whether you support or oppose the proposed rule language
• Give reasons for your views
• Be specific and offer language changes to solve the problems you identify
Note, too, that all comments will be made available to the public, so only submit information that you wish to make available publicly. The Office of Administrative Hearings does not edit or delete submissions that include personal information.
Submit written comments via the Office of Administrative Hearings website.
MDA will not accept written comments on the proposed rule. More information about the formal comment process is available at mda.state.mn.us/gwprhearingnotice.
To learn more about the groundwater protection rule, visit mda.state.mn.us/nfr.
Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture